Situated to the south and east of Lake Hoan Kiem, the French Quarter has a different feel from the rest of Hanoi—one characterized by a profusion of space. The French began shaping this part of the city in the late 1800s (in part by knocking down Vietnamese buildings and monuments), and by the early 20th century had firmly established their imprint. Today, the district retains the broad avenues, wide sidewalks, and colonial architecture from the era of French rule. Highlights include the Sofitel Legend Metropole, with its distinctive white facade and green shutters, and the iconic Hanoi Opera House, modeled on the Palais Garnier in Paris.
Endless cables running from street to street, bikes coming from all directions, and old paint peeling from the cracking walls in buildings are some of the highlights of walking through the Old French Quarter in Hanoi. One has to be there to experience the vibe and energy coming from the activities in this part of the city.